It is a cherished tradition that Warrington’s Festival of Readings and Carols, in various formats, has signalled the start of Christmas festivities in Warrington Masonry for many years.
The Rev Michael Ridley once again lead an assembly of Masons, family and friends in a joyous celebration of the season, closely followed by hot drinks and mince pies in the hall next door at the drawing of the Christmas raffle. This year had a poignant edge as a number of regular attendees were absent through family bereavement and illness.
Readings charted the nativity from Isaiah’s prophesy to the Angel Gabriel to Luke, Matthew and John, but also the tale from the view of the innkeeper, from the view of the Wise Men’s camels and even the sheltering trees around the manger. They were delivered with clarity and confidence by brethren and the family of brethren, some literally as last-minute stand-ins.
For the scriptures, brethren Graham Greenall, Rob Crook, Chris Gleave, Rob Roberts and Glen Screeton did excellent jobs of recitation. Hannah Gleave gave a lovely delivery of ‘The Song of the Camels’, Lee Marsh was a questioning innkeeper and the Rev Michael Ridley revealed the great mystery of the incarnation. But who could compete with the youngsters Sophie Barker and Kai Whalley as they told us all about the Christmas legend and how the olive tree soothed, the palm promised dates and the pine gave us our first Christmas tree? Just lovely.
Once more, the selection of popular and favourite carols were sung with gusto by the choir, accompanied by Cadishead Public Band and Peter Blease on the church’s organ. As always, it seemed flawless. Two excellent solos were performed by Katie Blease; In the Bleak Midwinter and Born in the Night, Mary’s Child.
The church hall next door was, as always, where most of the congregation gathered later for tea, coffee, sherry and mince pies. Andy Barton did his usual service of attending to the Grand Christmas Draw. Lodge of Charity No 2651 won first prize, Dave Knight second prize and Paul Santos third prize. Finally, Andy rounded off a splendid evening by wishing all of the assembled a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Pictures and story by Eric Miller.